Going to Malta and you find yourself wondering what the best way of travelling around Malta is? Thinking of whether you should rent a car or use public transport to save some money?
Let’s see: Malta has no trains, buses are overloaded (especially in the summer), hitchhiking (although possible) can be very frustrating as Malta is not a hitchhiking country. This leaves no better way to explore this 316 sq km island (122 square miles) than by car!
Renting a vehicle to travel in Malta is a perfect way to experience to the full the perimeters of the country at your own pace, and chase down the attractions that excite you the most. Regardless if you choose a small car or a big 4×4, there are certain things to keep in mind while driving in Malta.
Traffic and left-hand drive
When you rent a car in Malta, you give yourself the freedom of exploring this breathtaking country in your own time, and at your own pace. However, one has to keep in mind that due to Malta being previously a British colony, where they drive on the left-hand side of the road. Malta has no real highways, they have a few bypasses which are like mini highways and therefore, means that to get from a place to another, you are mostly in the centre of all the traffic. Most of the Maltese people do not use the indicators and often do not give the right of way. The simple route from Sliema to Cirkewwa (28 km) can become a journey of 45 minutes in the wrong time of the day.
As a general rule, you should always try to use alternative roads, especially during the mornings and after office hours due to high amount of traffic.
To rent a car, you must be at least 21 years old and have had a valid driver’s license for at least one year. Your driving license should be either a European one and if you are not from Europe, you are requested to present an international driving license (even if many do not ask for this). Being over 25 can reduce drastically the cost.
Most car rental companies would charge and extra insurance fee to drivers over 70 years old (some companies might refuse to rent the cars due to their insurance company not insuring people at this age). If the driver is over 75 years old, there is a high chance of not being able to rent a car, in the event that a company accepts renting a car to people at this age, expect that they will ask for a medical note which is basically a declaration by the doctor stating that the driver is fit to drive.
Road regulations and fines
The speed limits are generally lower than in other European countries due to the lack of high ways or any high speed roads in Malta. The maximum speed limit inside the towns is 40km/h and outside is usually 60km/h. However, all speed cameras are marked with various road signs.
Speeding fines are Eur 34.94 if exceeding by not more than 15km/h of the speed limit and Eur 74.94 if exceeding the limit by more than 15km/h. If you get a speeding fine or any other fine for that matter, the car hire company gets notified by the police department. It is highly advisable to be careful for not getting any fines when renting a car, due to the fact that with each fine you get, the car hire company usually charges clients a processing fee. We recommend that if you are aware of getting a fine, to contact the car hire company as to maybe avoid paying this fee.
The alcohol limit is 0.8 mg of alcohol per ml of blood, 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine, or 35 micro-grams of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.
As in most countries, all passengers are required by law to wear a seat belt. Using a mobile phone while driving is strictly forbidden.
In case of an accident, you are requested to call the traffic police to submit your report on 21 320 202. After filing the report, you are then expected to inform the car rental company so you can fill in the claim forms and all required documentation.
Emergency number in Malta is 112.
The best option for you while renting a car is always full to full or half to half in some cases. This means that will have to return the car with the same amount that you received it with.
If in the contract there is not a clause about this option, chances are that you are going to be charged for the fuel that there is in the car and you will be expected to return the car with no fuel. Any fuel left in the car will not be refunded. Just to give you a clearer picture, to spend a full tank of fuel in Malta, you would need at least to drive for four days. In most cases, the fuel price by the car hire, is charged at a higher rate per litre.
The costs of car hire
The minimum costs to rent a car in Malta go from minimum of Euro 10 in winter to Euro 30 in summer. Minimum means an economy car of class A in car hire, rented for at least 3 days without additional services with normal excess policy. If rented for a day, the day price is higher than if you rent a car for 3 days and insurance costs usually are with a minimum of 3 days.
Is it more convenient to rent online or on spot?
In August there might be a difficulty to find an available car, to avoid disappointment, it is better to book before. Also with regards of the contract, reading it from home, might be more clear than in the airport office and it gives you more time to make up your mind after asking all the necessary questions at your own time.
Credit Card and Deposit
To rent a car in Malta, the majority of the car hire companies will ask for a valid credit card on the main driver’s name. If you do not have a credit car, we recommend you contacting the company directly and not through any agency, inform them about the matter and you might find some companies that would accept this against some conditions. Namely; taking full insurance, leaving zero excess and having a certain amount of money blocked on a debit card in case of any contraventions incurred.
If you do have a credit card, but have a low limit, you will most probably be forced to take full insurance with zero excess, since the company would normally block the excess from your card.
Excess and Insurance
Each car rental has their own unique insurance policies. These can be checked during the booking process. Your level of insurance will also be confirmed with you when you collect your car. Basic insurance are usually those for the accidents CDW – Collision Damage Waiver, and theft insurance TDW – Theft Damage Waiver. Now-a-days it is almost impossible to get a quote for car hire that includes full insurance with zero excess. Different companies will have various names for the exact same thing, and therefore, we recommend that you always ask how much insurance would cost to get the car with zero excess. This does not mean that there would not be any other hidden insurance charges. Most of the time, companies might have also an insurance called extra cover protection, this basically is an insurance the covers; top and bottom of the car, wheels, windscreens, glass and mirrors. This is never included and therefore, one should clarify about the costs of getting this insurance.
When booking online, many companies offer a zero excess or also known as excess reimbursement. This insurance does not reduce or waive your excess, the excess will still be blocked from your card. However, if you have an accident and you have all the necessary documents, you will be reimbursed the damage money.
Parking and Accommodation
Due to the island having too many cars per square metre, Malta suffers from parking problems. In summer, in the more touristic areas such as St. Julians or Sliema, the problem tends to increase and becomes close to impossible to find a parking spot anywhere in the vicinity.
The ideal would be finding accommodation that has a private parking. Or ask when booking a hotel if in the area there are private or public parking areas. The police are very strict with parking, especially with hired cars.
Pictures at the car hire
When hiring a car, make sure that you make lots of pictures of the car before getting the car. Make sure to include every scratch and damage, also fuel level. If you have the chance, make a short video with your phone catching the car exteriors and interiors.
CVA in Valletta
The CVA – Controlled Vehicular Access is a tax to enter the capital city of Valletta. It is valid for the all streets of Valletta from 8.00 until 18.00 o’clock for the all streets and here you can see the Map. If you enter the above mentioned zones after 14.00hrs, the car will not be charged any fees. We suggest to either park the car in one of the car parks just outside Valletta or to enter the zone after 14.00hours. The car rental company will receive invoice for your fees and will therefore charge an additional processing and handling fee which would probably be much more than the Congestion fee itself.
Google Maps will be the best guide in Malta while travelling on the island by car. The system has some errors of one ways of the small streets but it is quite precise. Make sure to have data or download the Offline Map of Malta before getting here.
Car sharing option instead of car rental
If you are familiar with car sharing then we are glad to tell you that there is this option in Malta too. All you need to do is register, which you also can do before coming to Malta (approval of your account might take around 24 hours. The costs of this option against those of car rental are very competitive: check the prices here.
You can grab the car upon your arrival at the Malta International Airport, all you need to do is book the car using GoTo’s app not more than 15 minutes before you need it. By using the app, you will be able to locate the car and book it so you it’s there waiting for you when you arrive. There are 6 car sharing parking bays at Malta Airport allowing you to travel from and to the Airport with GoTo with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What sort of car should I rent for travelling in Malta?
When deciding upon what sort of car you should rent for your travels in Malta there are mainly two factors that you should consider. The first is the group you will be travelling with. How many are in it and how much luggage will they have? You will have to take into account that when choosing a car, it does not only need to have enough seats, but also the luggage space for whatever your companions and yourself will take with you.
Secondly the parking can be a problem in Malta. Consider the smallest car possible.
2. What documents do I need to hire a car in Malta
- A valid driving licence (from any country)
- A credit card (not to confuse with a debit one)
- Passport or EU ID card
- If you’ve booked your car hire online, do not forget to take a copy of your reservation with you. Also peovide a proof of deposit payment (where applicable).
3. What is included in the rental?
What is included in a car hire varies, depending on the company, period, type of car and where you booked it from. Some additional optional charges could be: renting a GPS devices, insuring and additional driver, booster/baby seat and buying a physical map. Since the companies hire GPS, almost no company will provide you with things such as a mobile phone holder to put your phone while using google maps. A basic car hire in Malta does not include a stereo and therefore if this is something that is necessary for you, we advise you to ask beforehand. Included in all rentals are unlimited mileage and basic CDW insurance (with an excess). The CDW insurance covers all damage that you might cause with the car, e.g. other vehicles or items hit with the car, and compensation for individuals that might be harmed. For Camper Vans, many rentals also offer free camping equipment alongside the main purchase, but as it varies what a camping box includes, please read the vehicle description carefully.
4. What sort of cars are considered Small & Cheap cars?
The Small & Cheap Cars section contains vehicles that are in the smallest size category, or alternatively, those that are three years old or older. These cars are often priced lower than larger or newer rental models. Vehicles such as Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1 go into this category, as well as slightly larger cars such as Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Yaris.
5. Is driving in Malta safe?
Although Malta’s road fatalities are the smallest per capita in Europe, you should pay attention to the other drivers and better get used to them quickly. The drivers in Malta are often not using indicators and can just stop for a chat in the middle of the road without hazard lights blocking the traffic. Lately also the bikes and scooter became more popular in Malta, therefore watch out for bikes overtaking you from both sides. Also, if you hear a honking horn do not take it too personal as it also might be just a salut from one driver to another. The most dangerous drivers are of course the taxi drivers, so better let them pass and avoid arguing with them. Southern part of Malta can be considered worst for the quality of driving and respect of rules.
6. What is the side of driving in Malta?
Malta same as England, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, India and South Africa drives on the left hand side of the road.
7. What is the alcohol tolerance when driving in Malta?
Malta’s 0.8g/l limit is the highest in Europe, and as little as two drinks in the first hour could raise a person’s BAC to 0.5g/l. One drink per hour would be required to maintain that level. For more info read here.